Published on September 9th, 2014 | by Avé Mayeux0
“Boxes of Bourbon: How Star Package Gears Up for Football Season in Oxford” by Avé Mayeux
With the Ole Miss Football season kicking off, many local businesses have been hectically preparing for the heavy influx of people about to take Oxford by storm. Students, parents, and thousands of college football fans will shortly be gathering on the Square, in The Grove, and all over town looking for strong drinks, a good time, and a taste of southern hospitality, all which Oxford, Mississippi, is well known for.
While every business has its own way of preparing for the impact of the 2014 football season, one local business has been hustling and bustling for weeks, trying to ensure that whether or not the Rebels win the game, the fans definitely won’t lose the party.
Star Package, Oxford’s number one wine and spirits store, still operates out of the original location between the Square and campus, and will be celebrating its 23rd anniversary on September 3rd. Owned by local businesswoman, Jeanne Ferguson Zinn, Star Package has seen many football weekends and has a unique way of equipping itself with enough product to get through even the biggest SEC rivalry weekend.
“Stocking up, getting enough inventory and knowing what to get is the most essential part,” said Zinn. “It’s getting enough to where I don’t run out. If we have some left over, that’s fine; there’s another game coming up next weekend.”
Star Package also has a wholesale permit, which means they can sell to local bars and restaurants who choose to purchase from them rather than the state.
When considering Vaught-Hemingway Stadium can hold 60,580 people alone, then factoring in the additional people tailgating in The Grove, watching the game from the bar or having tailgate parties at home, then estimating the percentage of those individuals who will be drinking while doing so, you’re looking at a lot of booze being consumed in a short amount of time. For Star Package, that translates to placing a tremendous order as well.
When trying to estimate what to order and how much, Zinn first looks back through invoices from previous football seasons. Orders for inventory are placed almost daily to keep up with the demand from the crowds in town and locals alike.
The week before a home game, Star Package receives an average of 500 cases, which is estimated to be approximately 18,600 pounds, filled with anything from wine to whiskey. Employees are consistently restocking the shelves and putting together orders for businesses while also helping customers decide between bourbon or Bordeaux.
Joel Tatum, manager of Star Package and employee of seven years, can recall times where customers were lined up outside the door, waiting to get in and make their purchases.
“The 11:15 games are always the busiest,” Tatum said. “We usually let people in 10 to 15 minutes early to make their selection, but by state law, we can’t make any sale until 10 am. By that time, if it’s a big SEC team, there can be between 20 to 25 people watching the clock, waiting for 10 am.”
Some customers choose to make their purchases a few days in advance, most commonly, the Thursday or Friday before the game, to stock up for their football festivities.
As tradition has it, the bourbons and whiskeys still tend to be the top seller for those heading to The Grove; however, over the years, other wines and liquors have also made their way to becoming top sellers during football season.
“It’s a mixture of sales; however, I will tell you by seasons, as the weather gets colder, more people buy the brown goods,” said Zinn.
While it’s hard work preparing for another Ole Miss Football season, which has arguably the best tailgate in America, those at Star Package look forward to each football season and prepare with excitement.
“The anticipation of everyone coming in is my favorite part,” said Zinn. “I see a lot of people that I haven’t seen in a while, I see people I went to college with, I see their kids, I see young adults that are in their late thirties that have worked for me in the past that always come by to see me.